The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

delight and understanding

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Witness the endless roads of the Newtown Pentacle, weaving in and amongst all those tribes of man gathered in western Queens, as along them walks a pedantic soliloquy. Your humble narrator, returned from familial duty and participation in a culture which has became alien, continues.

In a somewhat lucky turn, the video card on my mac went sour on Wednesday, and failed attempts at repair or replacement here in New York have resulted in my having to order the part from Apple which (in conjunction with the holiday weekend) means that I won’t have a working mac until at least next tuesday. I’m working off a late model laptop in the interim (just in case you were wondering), but processing and publishing photos or any “heavy” work is on hold. Luckily, I’ve managed to completely sublimnate the situation I can do nothing about (the funeral) by throwing myself bodily at the one I could (securing a replacement part). A shame, since I took some lovely shots of the post interment gravesite.


If anyone has an AGP bus ATi Radeon 9800 XT with 256mb they don’t need for a few days (or ever again), contact me.

from wikipedia

A belief in magic as a means of influencing the world seems to have been common in all cultures. There was considerable overlap between beliefs and practices that were religious and those that were magical, such that their mutual influence was significant. In many cases it becomes difficult or impossible to draw any meaningful line between beliefs and practices that are magical versus those that are religious. Communal rites and celebrations contained elements of both religion and magic. Over time, especially within the specific religious context of western monotheism as expressed in the Abrahamic religions, religiously-based supernatural events (“miracles”) acquired their own flavor, and became separated in those religious worldviews from standard magic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Weather permitting, I’m planning on walking one of the great patterns, here in the Newtown Pentacle. The “beat”, as Our Lady of the Pentacle has heard it referred to in the past. St. Michael’s needs to be checked in on, as a full moon has just passed. Calvary demands inspection, as well as the distaff hinterlands of that lugubrious waterway called the Newtown Creek. Perhaps a trip to Mt. Zion will clear my head, or a walk over one of our many Newtown bridges or a stroll through Tower Town. Promises of holiday parties and ribald evenings here in centuried Astoria are being discussed by area wags as well. Perhaps it is for the best that the mac is down for a few days, so that life can go on. One thought though, a single question- felt in enigmatic sense impacts rather than being heard- echoes in my mind…

from wikipedia


The first stage of mourning is aninut, or “[intense] mourning.” An onen (a person in aninut) is considered to be in a state of total shock and disorientation. Thus the onen is exempt from performing mitzvot that require action (and attention), such as praying and reciting blessings, wearing tefillin (phylacteries), in order to be able to tend unhindered to the funeral arrangements.

Aninut lasts until the burial is over, or, if a mourner is unable to attend the funeral, from the moment he is no longer involved with the funeral itself.


Aninut is immediately followed by avelut (“mourning”). An avel (“mourner”) does not listen to music or go to concerts, and does not attend any joyous events or parties such as marriages or Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, unless absolutely necessary. (If the date for such an event has already been set prior to the death, it is strictly forbidden for it to be postponed or canceled.)

Avelut consists of three distinct periods.

Shiva – Seven days

The first stage of avelut is shiva (Hebrew: שבעה ; “seven”), a week-long period of grief and mourning. Observance of shiva is referred to by English-speaking Jews as “sitting shiva”. During this period, mourners traditionally gather in one home and receive visitors.

It is considered a great mitzvah (commandment) of kindness and compassion to pay a home visit to the mourners. Traditionally, no greetings are exchanged and visitors wait for the mourners to initiate conversation. The mourner is under no obligation to engage in conversation and may, in fact, completely ignore his/her visitors.

Visitors will traditionally take on more of the hosting role when attending a Shiva. Often bringing food and serving it to the mourning family and other guests. The mourning family will often avoid any cooking or cleaning during the Shiva period and those responsibilities become those of visitors.

There are various customs as to what to say when taking leave of the mourner(s). One of the most common is to say to them:

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Hamakom y’nachem etkhem b’tokh sha’ar avelei tziyon viyrushalayim:

“The Omnipresent will comfort you (pl.) among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”

Depending on their community’s customs, others may also add such wishes as: “You should have no more tza’ar (‘pain’)” or “You should have only simchas (‘celebrations’)” or “we should hear only good news (besorot tovot) from each other” or “I wish you long life”.

Traditionally, prayer services are organised in the house of mourning. It is customary for the family to lead the services themselves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gilman… where is Gilman?

from “Searches Into the History of the Gillman or Gilman Family, Including the Various Branches in England, Ireland, America and Belgium by Arthur Gilman

The appointment of Geoffrey Gilmyn as ‘ Custodian of the gate of the King’s Castle at Canterbury’ was made when Edward III. was at York engaged in the expedition against the Scots who had invaded Cumberland. No doubt he felt, during his absence in the North, he could depend on the loyalty of the Bristol townsman, Geoffrey Gilmyn, hence his appointment by Writ of Privy Seal and mandate in pursuance to the Sheriff of Kent.

Geoffrey Gilmyn probably continued to reside in Canterbury or the neighbourhood and left descendants in the county. In the year 1431, two brothers, living at Wittersham, near Appledore, in Kent, were convicted before the Archbishop of Canterbury of heresy and Lollardie and of harbouring heretical teachers, especially one Peter Gylmyn. “Mandatum factum ad vocandum hereticos ad penetenciam,” Arc (MSS. of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury.)

In 1478 Richard Gilmyn, Brother of the Hospital of Saint Harboldowne, situated about one mile from Canterbury, died ; his will, proved in the Consistory Court of that Cathedral City, shows the continuance of Geoffrey’s descendants in or near Canterbury.

The Hospital of St. Nicholas, at Harbledown (as now spelt), was founded in 1084, by Archbishop Lanfranc, for lepers: those poor outcasts from society, suffering from a loathsome disease, cared for by none, and on whom none but a ‘ religious ‘ would attend. Brother Gilmyn had no doubt devoted his life to the work and was a ‘ Father Damien’ of that period. In course of time the terrible disease has been stamped out in this country, and the ‘ Hospital’ now consists of almshouses, being a range of cottages and gardens, with a large common hall in the centre and a fine old church, consisting of chancel, nave and tower. A prior, chaplain and steward now preside over the establishment.

Harbledown is situated one mile from the West Gate of Canterbury, on the road from London, on high ground from which one of the most beautiful views of Canterbury greeted the pilgrim in ancient times on his journey to the shrine of St. Thomas-aBecket.

Here the first sight of his journey’s goal burst upon his vision. Nothing could be more striking than the great mass of the Cathedral, with the hooded outline of the Chapter House lying monk-like beside it, lifting its deep shadows against the clear blue of the mid-day sky, or flushed all over with the rosy glow of sunset. Far in the distance are visible the white cliffs of Pegwell Bay, under which Augustine landed on his mission to subject the English Church to Roman influence.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2010 at 2:30 am

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